Philip Ball at Lapham’s Quarterly:
Water attracts trouble. Time and again this ubiquitous and vital substance becomes the subject of controversial claims. The latest is about “raw” or “live” water, consumed directly from natural springs with no treatment or purification.
It’s largely a Silicon Valley thing. About thirty dollars will buy you five gallons from the Oregon-based company Live Water.
Sure, raw water might be full of other stuff like bacteria, algae, and minerals. But these, say devotees, are good for us—unlike the antimicrobial agents and additives in tap water or the plastic additives leached into bottled water. Fluoride, added to tap water for dental health, has a particularly long history of health scares and conspiracy theories; in the 1950s some said fluoridation was a communist plot to undermine the health of Americans. Raw-water advocates contend that fluoride is neurotoxic even at very low levels, although there’s no evidence of that.